Man, Work, and Society: A Reader in the Sociology of Occupations

By Sigmund Nosow; William H. Form | Go to book overview
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Let us assume, beyond continuing equalizations along the line here intimated--between the social classes, between men and women, young and old, rural and urban--the continued full employment and prosperity on which they considerably rest, and that this will continue to put unionized factory workers above even our changing definitions of poverty. Let us assume, too, that we continue to opt for increased productivity as well as increased time off. Does this presently visible potentiality of "nonwork" for variety and mobility--in homebuilding, domestic handicrafts, travel, organizational activity, sports, spectatorship, and even part-time entrepreneurship--provide an infinitely expandable package deal for the satisfying expenditure of time and energy and for the attainment of an adequate identity? Or are we coming to an era when workers have all the housing they care for, and can no longer pour energies into homebuilding? When possessions no longer lure them, when travel palls? No doubt, adult educators water at the mouth at the prospect--for they are in the business of selling intangibles for which the market is totally elastic. . . .

The future seems "impossible," whichever way we look at it. Leisure marches on, while understanding of its import escapes these reporters, and planful invention and design of its opportunities escape all of us.

Thus, while noting that leisure can be of crucial importance, R. F. Tregold ( Human Relations in Modern Industry, New York: International Universities Press, 1950), devotes but three pages to it (cf. pp. 70-72), while C. H. Lawsheet al. ( Psychology of Industrial Relations, New York: McGraw-Hill, 1953, pp. 50-53) sees leisure rather narrowly in terms of its effects on productivity. Conversely, many books on leisure (e.g., Martin and Esther Neumeyer, Leisure and Recreation, New York: A. S. Barnes, 1947) make only tangential contact with work as setting the time, energy, and often compensatory nature of play. A greater sense of the dialectic between work and leisure can be found in Foster Rhea Dulles, America Learns to Play ( New York: D. Appleton-Century, 1940), and notably in Johan Huizinga, Homo Ludens ( Boston: Beacon Press, 1955).
Thus Alvin Gouldner ( Patterns of Industrial Bureaucracy, Glencoe, Ill.: Free Press, 1954) observes that miners and millworkers behave differently among each other and with supervisors and sees these patterns refracted in their behavior off the job. Elton Mayo, of course, devoted passionate attention to the reveries and off-the-job worries which the Hawthorne Plant workers brought from their often underprivileged homes.
The L. S. Ayres department store in Indianapolis made the discovery that when it gave its employees Monday off (rather than a shifting weekday), many more went to church Sunday for they could use the following day to rest up and catch up; undoubtedly, the present phenomenal rise in church attendance among Americans owes a good deal to the shorter workweek and two-day weekend.
Warren Peterson in a study of Kansas City schoolteachers found also this growing demand for early retirement, expressing boredom and defeatism about work as much as any specific desires for postwork leisure activities


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Man, Work, and Society: A Reader in the Sociology of Occupations
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